John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 03/26/2020

    Should retail associates be treated like frontline health responders?

    Absolutely. Some chains have increased pay for these retail associates who, thank goodness, continue to staff grocery stores. Plexiglass between cashiers and customers is a good idea. I would recommend plexiglass also at the customer service desk and the pharmacy counter. Having associates who work the produce department wear latex gloves and maybe masks may seem extreme, but would send a safety signal to shoppers.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2020

    Retailers act to protect seniors from coronavirus shopping chaos and contamination

    This morning Stop & Shop announced special hours for seniors and the disabled to shop in their stores. Other grocers should and likely will do the same, if they have not already. Such a move makes obvious sense because seniors, who are most vulnerable, won't be in a crowded store with possible carriers of the virus. Also, they and the disabled will not have to fight big crowds who are in a rush in get in and out of the store. After the virus has been eliminated, grocers would be wise to keep their special hours for seniors and the disabled. It's simply the right thing to do.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2020

    Which retailers are less vulnerable to the coronavirus and whatever comes next?

    Grocery stores will be the least vulnerable channel because consumers cannot do without food and drink. Already, savvy grocers are shortening hours to allow for maximum restocking of shelves as people continue to hoard goods. Big winners among food companies will be makers of frozen food and canned goods.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2020

    Will rival retailers buy Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ technology?

    The technology may be too expensive for many grocers. It may work in a convenience store with a few items. However I don't believe shoppers will want to bag $200 worth of goods while walking around the store.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2020

    Can retailers ensure stores are coronavirus-safe?

    The most important thing grocers can do is tell shoppers via email and radio/TV advertising that stores are taking all sensible and obvious precautions, and that store associates have been and/or are being tested for the virus. Also, it would be smart to promote home delivery of groceries.
  • Posted on: 03/02/2020

    Retailers go into business triage mode as coronavirus enters the U.S.

    Panic buying of groceries because of the coronavirus reminds me of how shoppers react when facing a major snow storm. Grocers could reassure shoppers about available supplies and discourage panic buying.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2020

    Amazon goes bigger with its cashier-less store concept

    Besides offering attractive prices, Amazon will use the new store as a learning experience to make the in-store shopping experience more engaging and attractive for everyday shoppers. Traditional grocers would be wise to adopt some of the coming innovations for their own stores before Amazon opens a full-sized supermarket next to them.
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    Should grocers just say ‘no’ to big CPG brands when it comes to shelf decisions?

    For the best outcomes, managing product assortments and shelf space should be a collaborative effort. Trading partners need to jointly focus on their mutual customer -- the consumer. I suspect that reports of the role of category captains diminishing is fake news. Nobody knows more about products and their sales potential than the companies making them. One more thing: the growing success of private label will have its limits. The US is not Europe.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2020

    Unilever will end marketing to young kids to fight childhood obesity

    Kudos for Unilever for this bold move. Maybe other food makers will take notice. Maybe marketers of sweetened breakfast cereal with cartoon characters on the packaging?
  • Posted on: 02/13/2020

    Grocers are given failing marks on food recall transparency

    I always thought it was common practice for grocers to inform customers who were members of the store's loyalty card program about recalls. I guess not. This is an issue that FMI should address.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2020

    Brandless halts operations. What went wrong?

    Whenever I heard "Brandless" I thought "generic," and generic deserves its poor reputation. The $3 price point sounded too good to be true. It was.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2020

    Why are so many organic grocers landing in bankruptcy court?

    I agree that hasty expansion and heavy debt contributed to the bankruptcies. But most mainstream supermarkets began offering attractively priced organics, eliminating the need for shoppers to go to specialty stores.
  • Posted on: 02/07/2020

    7-Eleven tries out an Amazon Go-like store

    If cashierless technology will work anywhere, it will be in convenience stores. 7-Eleven is wise to test the solution before deploying it to real stores. Questions: Will the cost of the technology justify the "convenience" of such a store? Are C-store shoppers asking for such stores? Finally, I do not believe cashierless technology will ever succeed in mainstream supermarkets -- too many SKUs, too much bagging by shoppers, too costly for grocers.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2020

    Move over plant-based meat, lab-grown meat is coming

    Lab-grown meat was tested in Europe with little success. As for prospects in the U.S., lab-grown meat sounds like Frankenfood. ‘Nuff said.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2020

    Cross-brand collaborations open up store shelf space for CPG brands

    Mashups can be creative and engaging when done well. Then there is the downside. Two examples: Sour Patch Kids-flavored cereal from Post Consumer Brands and Mondelēz, and Froot Loops Birthday Cake breakfast cereal from Kellogg’s. How are these combinations even possible at a time when the food industry is touting healthy eating?

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